October 3, 2018

The Right Side Won was What Fun’s one hit in the 1980s

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 8:51 pm

This catchy reggae tune ponders how history is written by the winners, which is ironic considering that this would be Haarlem-based What Fun’s only hit, condemning them to relative obscurity.

The song was released in 1983 and reached the number 3 spot of the Dutch Top 40 in the spring of 1984. The single was also released in other countries, but did not do much there. The band did not seem to have much time for promotion since the members all had day jobs.

Singer Martin Richardson told social-democratic newspaper Het Vrije Volk (‘The Free People’) in January 1984: “At least South Africa understood what the song is about because they banned the record. In the Netherlands, 90 percent of the listeners do not get that the lyrics are based on the Falklands war between England and Argentina and the pumped up atmosphere surrounding the conflict. In other words, there are two parties, a pacifist and a war mongering one, and everybody gets to decide for themselves which is which, and history is written by the winner. That is what we mean by ‘the right side won’.”

What Fun tried to break the charts with another highly topical song, this time about the micro computer revolution, Let’s Get Digital, but without much success. The record sleeve for that song was created using a computer program that itself was included on the single. Computers of the day could translate the assorted beeps included at the end of the song into working program code.

(Video: YouTube / What Fun!; illustration: crop of a still from the video)

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October 13, 2013

Merch tip: short haired Barbie sells the least

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 10:42 pm

The Dolly Dots were a Dutch girl band from the 1980s with a string of hits. At the height of their success the six singers had their own sitcom, feature film and even their own Barbie dolls which, according to the I’m Like: ‘Oh My God!!!’ blog, were not very life-like.

The Ria doll at least included her trademark short hair. “All the dolls were hits, except the Ria one […] because it had short hair. You cannot comb a Ken hairdo.”

In this video from Avro’s TopPop Ria still had long hair—she is the one with the purse:

Having found only one source I have no idea whether this story is actually true, but it sounded too good to have it stay at the Dutch language part of the web.

(Photo by TROS, some rights reserved)

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July 10, 2012

Major band write song via Twitter (#doemaarmee)

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 10:24 am

Influential Dutch band Doe Maar are holding a competition in which anyone over eighteen can help write their next song.

Over the next eight weeks, each week the band will indicate which two lines of the song they need written, and entries are accepted when they are posted on Twitter using the hashtag #doemaarmee. The prizes are little more than what you would expect for co-writing a hit—royalties and free tickets—but I am guessing that most people will enter in the hope of being a part of the Doe Maar legend.

Doe Maar are a big thing in the Netherlands. They are to Nederpop what the Beatles are to Britpop, and what Kraftwerk are to techno. (The fact that they played ska and wrote open, honest lyrics was not part of that influence. The fact that they made quality songs in a modern genre in Dutch was.)

They had a short but bright career in the early eighties, reviving the pop song in the Dutch language single-handedly, scoring hit after hit and drawing halls full of teenage girls. The pressures of fame—seeing scores of young women faint in front of you night after night is apparently the opposite of ointment for the soul—led to a break-up of the band. They have been recording and performing together on and off since.

The competition started this week, and Doe Maar are currently looking for two lines that start with “Op een dag komt de dag (dat)” (one day will come the day (that)).

(Screenshot: doemaarmee.nu)

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